What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
(1 Peter 1:8): — Why believing should in one case produce "joy unspeakable," and in another convulse the spirit with paroxysms of agony.
I. THE OBJECT OF FAITH IS THE SAME IN BOTH CASES. That Object is God — God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Saviour. Christians, while contemplating God, grow glad in His presence; their faith rises into rapture, "joy unspeakable and full of glory." But what of the devils? They gaze on the same object, but no cheering light flashes on their woe-worn countenance.
II. IN BOTH CASES THERE IS A KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORICAL FACTS. There is one marked difference, however, in this historic knowledge — viz., the Christian has read the history, but the devil has lived it! Startling is the reflection that Satan has been the contemporary of all ages! What, then, is the result of the Satanic knowledge? Does knowledge inspire joy? Nay! As Satan stands in the solemn temple of history, he trembles under the remorseless tyranny of self-condemnation!
III. IN BOTH CASES THERE IS A BELIEF IN DIVINE FAITHFULNESS. Satan never knew an instance in which the Divine faithfulness had failed! The Divine unchangeableness is a cause of terror to lost spirits. Hath God spoken, and shall He not perform? Can any suggest to Omniscience an idea which might reverse His purposes? The Divine immutability is, on the contrary, the source of the Christian's most rapturous joy! The Christian knows nothing of the suspense which fickleness would have occasioned, and which is so fatal to calmness and rapture; he rests his head on the assurances of the eternal.
IV. It still remains to be known why "believing" should be attended with results so diverse. We submit that the secret is this, viz., IN THE CASE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS ACCOMPANIED BY HOPE, WHEREAS IN THE CASE OF SATAN IT IS ASSOCIATED WITH UTTER HOPELESSNESS. Having cleared our way thus far, we are in a position to do two things, viz. —
1. To remove certain practical errors, and —
2. To explain the nature of the faith which produces "joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1. We now see that faith is not a mere intellectual exercise.
2. That faith is not a mere credence of Divine facts.
3. That faith is not a mere belief in Divine predictions. What, then, is the true faith? The faith which produces joy is the trust and confidence of the heart in the atonement and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! It is easy to see the bearing of this argument on all efforts for the evangelisation of humanity.Let me remind you of three facts:
1. That on earth alone can joy-producing faith be exercised.
2. That the propagation of this faith is entrusted to human instrumentality.
3. That we are responsible for the propagation of this faith up to the extent of our capability.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?